Nashville Zoo's international conservation efforts were highlighted this summer as carnivore keeper Megan Woodall spent a month at the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) in Somaliland.
Megan arrived in Somaliland in mid-July and spent the majority of her time working in one of the three safe houses at the Cheetah Conservation Fund facility. The safe houses oversee the care and rehabilitation of cheetah cubs that are taken from the illegal pet trade. Megan helped rehabilitate 38 cheetahs that were all battling multiple illnesses by assisting with blood draws, vaccinations, socializations, training sessions and enrichment brainstorming. Megan also experienced what it was like to introduce new cats to an existing group, figure out new living spaces for the cubs and even assist in butchery day to help prepare meat diets for the cats.
"It was such a blessing to use my skills to serve the CCF team and help advance the progress they are making on the ground in Somaliland,” said Megan. “I loved being able to see the growth and transformation of so many cheetahs due to the knowledge and commitment of a caring staff and l feel that working alongside them helped me further develop as a zookeeper."
Through her experiences and time spent in Somaliland, Megan was able to further the mission of both the Cheetah Conservation Fund and Nashville Zoo by participating in incredible hands-on conservation efforts to help save and protect this species.
Cheetah Conservation Fund and Nashville Zoo
CCF was founded in 1990 by Dr. Laurie Marker and is dedicated to saving cheetahs in the wild by developing the best practices in research, education and rehabilitation. Since 2014, Nashville Zoo has supported the work of CCF through financial contributions and medical supplies donations. Over the years, members from our animal care teams at the Zoo have shared their expertise as medical consultants and scientific advisors to help with the care and rehabilitation of cubs that are taken from the illegal pet trade and looked after in the CCF safe houses. Learn more about Cheetah Conservation Fund.
Cheetahs in the Wild
There are an estimated 7,000 cheetahs living in the wild today and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) as vulnerable to extinction due to habitat loss, poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking. The cheetah population has declined around 90% over the past 100 years and most are found in fragmented pockets throughout Africa. This species is vital to maintaining the balance of the ecosystem which they inhabit. Cheetahs are top predators and keep the savanna from becoming too arid by keeping certain plant-eating prey species populations in check. Learn more about the cheetah.